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Allendale Students Demand Diversity Awareness Curriculum On Anti-Asian Bias, Black Lives Matter Movement

ALLENDALE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Students in Allendale, New Jersey are demanding their schools teach about anti-Asian bias and the Black Lives Matter movement.

As CBS's Meg Baker reported Thursday, they're taking a stand to promote change.

Michelle Ling and Esther Park attend Northern Highlands Regional High School.

"I always had been normalized to the pulling the eyes back and name calling, stuff like that. But in fifth grade, it actually happened to me. Someone did it to me, directly to my face. And I was just so shocked," Park told Baker.

"Growing up here, I've always felt like a certain separation or an otherness," said Ling.

Ling said many people have implicit biases, and believes the formative years of high school should be a time to learn about anti-Asian bias and the Black Lives Matter movement.

"Northern Highlands, we are a majority white school. But that's, that's not how the world is," said Michelle Bechtel, a student representative for the board of education.

Bechtel says the lack of diversity teaching really came to light after a former student posted on Facebook about a discussion he had with the superintendent.

Zach Munro alleged Dr. Scott Beckerman called the Black Lives Matter movement and anti-Asian hate political movements that the school does not respond to.

Dr. Beckerman said those comments "were either not made or taken completely out of context," and "condemns any form of racism or injustice."

He says the district added instructional coaches to provide resources for teachers on topics including the riot on Capitol Hill and racial attacks on the Asian population. There's also a diversity committee, a supervisor of wellness and equity, and several lunch and learn sessions offered on Asian and Black history.

"I know some of these are relatively new, but I've never heard of so many of the things," Bechtel said.

Alan Singer, a director of social studies programs at Hofstra University, said current events need to be discussed.

"Help us to understand past events, and past events help us to understand the present," Singer said.

Students plan to request a Diversity Day be included in the school year and say they want to hear other suggestions from their peers.

CBS2's Meg Baker contributed to this report.

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